Wednesday, March 24, 2010

New findings about estrogen and men by Jerry Brainum

Although estrogen is often referred to as a "female hormone," it also is produced in men, just as the predominant "male hormone," testosterone is produced in women. The more proper term for both estrogen and testosterone are sex hormones. Under normal circumstances, women do produce substantially more estrogen than do men, although athletes using anabolic steroid drugs capable of being converted into estrogen often produce more estrogen than women. Testosterone can be converted into estrogen through the actions of the enzyme, aromatase, which is ubiquitous in men's bodies, particularly in fatty tissue. As men age, their production of testosterone tends to wane. This drop in testosterone synthesis changes the normal ratio of high testosterone and low estrogen normally seen in men to a higher estrogen pattern. Several studies have linked this low T and high E pattern in older man with various diseases, including cardiovascular disease and increased rates of prostate cancer. As a result, emerging evidence points to the necessity for men who show clinically low levels of T to undergo T therapy to maintain the vital T to E ratio. From a bodybuilding perspective, estrogen in men is considered undesirable because higher levels of estrogen are associated with increased fat stores just under the skin, and excess water retention. If the levels of E get too high, symptoms such as gynecomastia or excess male breast tissue can result.
But estrogen does provide some benefits to men. It appears to help maintain levels of high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL), important for prevention of cardiovascular disease. Estrogen also plays a role in exercise recovery processes, as well as aiding in the maintenance of androgen cell receptors, required for full activity of testosterone. In a recent study of 3,014 Swedish men, ages 69 to 80, estrogen, but not testosterone,helped maintain lean body mass. While lean body mass can include muscle, it also can include both water and bone. Since estrogen is known to increase body water levels, as well as to help maintain bone mass, this study doesn't exclude these effects of estrogen, rather than any specific maintaining of muscle mass. On the other hand, testosterone is proven beyond doubt to maintain muscle mass.

In another study of 1,454 men in Norway, men with higher estrogen levels, along with lower testosterone and SHBG (a protein binder of sex hormones in blood) levels, were shown to have significantly increased risk of acquiring diabetes that was independent of body fat levels. Having a low T level is linked to the onset of the metabolic syndrome, a set of symptoms that includes high blood glucose levels that is associated with the onset of both cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Despite these findings, most doctors still refuse to treat men with diagnosed low T levels due to an unfounded fear of stimulating prostate cancer. The sad and pathetic part of the story is that many untreated men will suffer needlessly and die prematurely because of this medical indifference and ignorance.
Vandenput, L, et al. Serum estrogen is associated with lean mass in elderly men.Eur J endocrinol 2010;162:737-45.
Vikan,T, et al. Low testosterone and sex-hormone binding globulin levels and high estradiol levels are independent predictors of type 2 diabetes in men.Eur J Endocrinol 2010;162:747-54.

©, copyright, 2010, Jerry Brainum. First North American Rights only. All other use, including electronic is forbidden.

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